Dr Ganesh Rakh has delivered 436 baby girls free of charge. The son of a coolie and housemaid, he wanted to be a wrestler as a child, but his mother encouraged him to study hard and get a proper job.
The doctor wants to change the mindset of a 'boy-obsessed' society. A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com spoke to the doctor with a heart.
When I was a child I wanted to become a wrestler. My father was a coolie and my mother used to work as a housemaid washing people's vessels in their home.
My mother said that if I became a wrestler I would eat up all the food in the house and there would be no food left for others. She also said that I would end up as a coolie like my father. Instead I should study and get a proper job.
I studied and became a doctor.
I have been a doctor for the past 15 years. In the early days I used to treat patients in their homes in the day and work in a private hospital in the night. Even when I was in college, I used to work the night shift in hospitals.
In 2007, I started the Medicare hospital. For the last four years we have not charged a fee when a girl child is born in this hospital. We have delivered 436 girl children through this scheme.
When a new-born girl child needs intensive care, we provide that too without charge.
Parents are obsessed with boys. They come to me and say they want a boy. I tell them 'God decides.' They don't realise that doctors cannot do anything about the sex of the baby. They go to babas (godmen).
Pregnant mothers are so tense because relatives say give us a baby boy. In the delivery room if it is a boy they forget all the pain. If it's a girl they start crying about the pain. Relatives celebrate when it is a boy; they ignore the mother if it is a girl.
When its time to pay the hospital bill, they will happily pay if it is a boy but grumble if it's a girl. So I decided to celebrate the girl child and not charge for the delivery.
When a girl child is born we distribute cakes and sweets to all the patients in the hospital.
Celebrating with mothers who have delivered baby girls
IMAGE: Mothers cut a cake to celebrate the birth of their daughters at Dr Rakh's hospital. This is a ritual each time a girl child is born. Photographs: Kind courtesy Dr Ganesh Rakh
What is surprising is even when it is the first child, they want a boy. Even literate and rich people want a boy first. They feel that if they have a boy first they don't have to worry about later children.
A few patients who deliver girls insist on paying. We tell them to give that money to other girl children born in our hospital who need the money.
A few twins have been born in our hospital. When both are girls we don't charge anything. If one baby is a boy, we charge 50%.
We charges are Rs 10,000 for a normal delivery and Rs 25,000 for a Caesarean section.
When a girl child is born, we make the mother cut a cake. We distribute the cake and sweets to all the patients and relatives in the hospital. We also give bouquets to the mother and close relatives. We spend about Rs 2,000 per child on this.
This is a 50 bed hospital. There are 35 people working here, which includes doctors and support staff. I personally work very hard. We don't have too much money to pay the extra staff. For the last six months, I have been doing night duty here.
I don't know whether it is because of the free for girl child scheme or otherwise, but lots of deliveries are happening in our hospital. Sometimes 5 children are born here in one day.
When a patient asks us what baby she will deliver, we always say it will be a girl.